Editor- Saif Khan
Nicolas Ruiz is a 19 year-old Columbian-American film student studying at Georgia State University. During the past few months, Ruiz wrote, recorded and produced a punk rock album under the name Nico! TOP Magazine had the chance to speak to Nico about his album (titled Garbage), and what his life is like as a young creative passionate about both film and music.
Nico, who started practicing music around four years ago, still considers himself “mediocre” in the craft. Growing up, he always had a passion for music- but could never see himself actually making it. Regardless, Nico found himself getting involved in music with the band he joined: BACKTOEARTH. When the pandemic struck and he found himself unable to record music with his bandmates, Nico began producing his first solo project- Garbage.
Nico and I started out our conversation by bonding over our interest in short films, and film in general. It’s something that Nico sees himself doing full time after graduating, which is why he chose to study film in university. Nico produced a short film recently that he’s submitted to a virtual student film festival. The artist’s love for film also manifests itself in his music projects, through the music videos for Garbage. Nico produced the video for his song Soft Sheets after he came across an interesting swinging bed in a vacation home that his family was staying at. Equipped with only an iPhone and his parents to assist him with filming, Nico shot and edited the video for the track. For his song Try Again!, Nico scripted, storyboarded and planned out the music video since he felt the song was an important one in the album. Nico’s father is a commercial filmmaker, so he used his equipment to shoot a good portion of the music video and plans to get the rest of it shot soon.
The album itself can’t be restricted to one genre: Nico says that his aim was to capture a mood rather than a specific sound, and the result of that was Garbage transcending any category of music. Instead, the album takes its listeners on an almost wild journey through the mind of a passionate and driven creative. The inconsistent nature of the album is like a roller coaster, giving you soft emotional ballads such as 6AM or Soft Sheets and punk rock-esq tunes like Egocheck all in one package. Garbage was curated over various bursts of inspiration and passion which, according to Nico, came at the “worst times.” The artist would get ideas while in the shower or in an online lecture, and he’d try to jot down his thoughts on his phone to refer to later. Eventually, this process turned into the fully fleshed out Garbage, which Nico released in late November.
Check out our Q & A with the musician below!
Who are some of your biggest inspirations for your music, and why? I get heavy early 2000’s soft rock vibes from your music- so I’m assuming that you draw tons of inspiration from that era!
That’s hard to say. I have different influences for every song. Most people I’ve talked to have pointed out how I’m basically trying to pull a The Garden by Beastie Boys thing with Egocheck, but other than that my 2000’s soft rock influences are spread out amongst the album with songs like Bright Pink, Soft Sheets, and Lost My Balance. Unlike Egocheck, I tried to pull a good mix (of inspiration) for the rest of the songs on the album. Bands I’ve drawn inspiration for Garbage include Pixies, The Strokes, Enjoy, Remo Drive, Twin Peaks, and even some early Weezer.
I’m in love with the cover for Garbage, and with your entire aesthetic in general. Where do you draw inspiration from for the visual aspects of your work?
I'm glad you like it! The album cover has had many versions, but I always knew I wanted it to capture the intentional inconsistency of the music. As far as visual aesthetics, I wanted it to have a really clean visual aesthetic while at the same time being really messy. My biggest inspiration for the visuals were these iSPY books that I loved as a kid, combined with the clean “perfect world” nature of a breakfast cereal commercial.
What’s your favorite track from the album, and why?
I don’t know. If I made a March madness bracket, Try Again! might win, but (all the songs) are special for different reasons. I think instrumentally and dynamically, my best song would be the combination of skiing on the back of a garbage truck and Egocheck (the two tracks play back to back to each other). I really don’t have a great reason for it, I just think it’s funny when a funky laid back instrumental turns into me throwing a tantrum on some drum and bass.
How long have you been doing music, and where do you hope to take it in the future?
I started learning guitar 4 years ago, and I didn’t think I would ever be capable of making my own project; it feels surreal. Wherever my music goes next, I hope I can spark someone’s love for music like my influences sparked it in me. To anyone reading this who wants to start making music: I’m a mediocre guitarist who made Garbage on an iPhone and learned how to sing from YouTube. You got this. As for the near future, I’m currently working on 3 personal EP’s and I’ll be releasing an EP with a new band soon too.
Check out Garbage here, and to stay updated with Nico’s work check out his Instagram!